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“I have Heritage and have been very pleased with their service. I have had two claims, and they settled both very quickly.” - G. F.

Meet Ellis Hershman, Vice President of
Heritage Insurance Services

Ellis Hershman, Vice President of Heritage Insurance Services, Inc., founded the Heritage Musical Arts and Trades program in 1991. Since then, the program has shown ongoing growth and built a solid, trustworthy reputation throughout the musical community.

The main focus of the Heritage Musical Arts and Trades program is the violin and guitar trade in the United States and Canada, with substantial participation by the instruments’ makers, dealers, restorers, organizations, suppliers and, of course, the owner's of fine musical instruments.

The program, which is chiefly designed to cover vintage, high-value, and professional-quality instruments, also insures recording studios and electrical gear.

According to Ellis, “We are constantly developing innovative insurance products to meet the diverse needs of the ‘musical food chain’. Heritage policies are amongst the most comprehensive offered to the music arts and trades today.”

“Using a common-sense underwriting approach, we have set the standard in market pricing. And we strive to reduce the losses of our clients and carriers by providing information about how and where losses occur and tips to avoid their occurrence.”

“Heritage polices cover instruments worldwide, regardless of the country of origin. So you take care of your music while we take care of your protection! Plus, we are always here to answer your music insurance questions any time.”

At what value should I start considering a Heritage policy?

“About 5,000. Even if your instrument isn’t quite that expensive, by the time you add a couple of decent bows to the list, plus a case, accessories, maybe a good microphone, the total value adds up surprisingly fast. That’s when insurance starts looking like a good idea, especially if you depend on your gear and can’t afford to repair or replace it.”

Do you specialize in a specific type of musical instrument protection?

“Yes, we specialize in professional-quality wooden instruments, dealers, and our unique workbench policy for makers, restorers and repair shops.”

What are your minimum premium and deductible requirements?

“We have a minimum annual premium of $250, and our policies can be written without deductible, which gives Heritage an advantage over other insurers because you’ll receive benefits for any loss without having to dip into your own pockets first.”

What are some of the highlights of Heritage musical instrument coverage?

“Heritage musical instrument protection is designed to cover the circumstances that are typically encountered by musicians. Musicians travel, so our coverage is worldwide.”

“We can also make on-the-spot adjustments to your plan to protect you in situations like checking your cello as baggage or shipping instruments and bows. Instruments and bows are often lent or taken on trial, so coverage can include similar items placed in your care.”

“Your music-related gear is also covered, including electrical, recording, accessories, amplifiers, and sound equipment. Two things we do NOT insure: laptops and iPods.”

“And your property is insured against the typical threats – fire, flood, theft, and damage. It’s actually easier to list what is not covered: wear and tear, mold, vermin, confiscation by governmental authority, illegal trade or contraband, nuclear threat, war or insurrection.”

What is instrument devaluation coverage, and what makes it an advantage?

“An important aspect of musical-instrument insurance, is devaluation. With bowed stringed instruments, condition is a major determinant of value. A sound post crack in the back, for example, can reduce the value by 50% or a broken head stock on a guitar by 60%. A bow with a broken head can be devalued by as much as 70-80%. Heritage devaluation coverage will pay for the repair of your instrument, PLUS the difference between the instrument’s previous insured value and its current repaired-condition value. This type of coverage is NOT generally found in standard or homeowners insurance policies.”

What kind of attention can I expect from Heritage? Am I ‘just another policy’?

“Another advantage of protecting with Heritage is our small-agency friendliness and personal commitment to our policy owners. You won’t just deal with “agents” and “claims adjusters” – you’ll get guidance and direction from people who are familiar with musicians, instruments, and the circumstances in which disaster strikes. Even more importantly, you’ll communicate with friends who already know the details of your coverage and won’t make you perform a “song and dance” to rehash your case every time you connect.”

How can I get an appraisal for my instrument?

"We can suggest a qualified dealer, maker, or repairer in your area. After you get your appraisal, it’s important to review it at renewal time and update it at least every three years.”

What are the differences between ‘agreed value’, ‘actual cash value’, and ‘replacement cost’?

“If you have an appraisal and Heritage accepts it, your property will be covered for the agreed value. This method is preferable because, with the amount agreed to by both parties in advance, there will be no question as to the value of your instrument. In case of a loss, your claim can be paid quickly and you’re guaranteed to receive the agreed-upon amount.”

Another method of valuing property is “actual cash value” – no appraisal is necessary for this method. You simply provide a list with the value of each item, which must be within reasonable market range. When a loss occurs, we will either ask you to justify the amount or we will research the market to determine a fair value.”

Replacement Cost Valuation - When the cost to replace an instrument or related musical equipment exceeds actual cash value (fair market value) Replacement Cost may be beneficial. Some instruments and equipment physically depreciate over time. Replacement Cost is used when you prefer to be paid based on the cost to replace with new or contemporary items. As an example, say a piano has an actual cash value (fair market value) of $52,000, but is sold new by the manufacturer today for $76,000. If you insured for $76,000 under a replacement cost valuation, the insurer would pay based on the cost to replace with a new piano rather than the actual cash value of the older piano.

When an instrument appreciates or retains it’s value over time, replacement cost and actual cash value are the same.

“In my experience, the same results are usually arrived at either way. But actual cash value takes longer, and there is an opportunity for disagreement with this valuation method.”

When and how should I file a claim?

“In the event of loss, damage, or theft, contact Heritage right away. We will discuss the nature of your loss with you and try to determine whether the item is repairable or totaled. Then we will tell you what to do next. It’s very important that you accurately describe what happened and that you follow our instructions regarding where to send the item and what to do with the repair estimate. This can lead to a more efficient settlement of your claim.”

“Lost or stolen items that are recovered within two years after the claim has been paid will be offered back to you for the price of the claim, minus any necessary repairs.”

“The good news is that lost instruments DO sometimes turn up. One of my favorite stories involves a cello that was lost for a full year, then found by an ambulance driver ‘with a minor in trash picking’ who spotted the case in between calls. The driver loaded the cello into his ambulance, found the owner’s phone number inside, and the two were reunited!”

Do you provide coverage for shipment and air cargo?

“Yes, Heritage writes shipment and air cargo on a per-transit basis as you require such coverage. Simply call or send us an e-mail, and we will underwrite and attach the coverage to your policy.”

“We can also add this coverage on a blanket, year-round basis for you. This usually involves gathering some information about the quantity and quality of your shipping exposures.”

“We can also write coverage for a single, one-time shipping/air cargo exposure, even if you have no other coverage with Heritage. ($250 minimum premium applies)”

“If you ship a lot of instruments, Heritage can set up a monthly reporting schedule for you. Just contact us and we’ll take care of it!”

Contact Heritage Insurance Services today at 1-800-289-8837, fax 215-322-5854,
or by e-mail at
Speak with a friendly Heritage agent live from 9 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday EST.
Or send us your message 24/7 via e-mail, voice-mail or fax. We’ll be happy to help you.